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Hitting a creative wall happens to everyone. However frustrating or disheartening this might be, what can seem like a creative impasse is an opportunity for greater self-understanding and freedom.

Deadlines can make people less creative by forcing them into analytical thinking, but you can use self-imposed deadlines in fun exercises to spark creativity. Here’s a creativity exercise to direct your attention toward a problem-solving task without being distracted by perfectionism, judgments, or limiting thoughts and feelings.

To begin, pick a problem you need to solve, take a few deep breaths, then set a timer for three minutes and follow these steps:

  • Write your problematic scenario at the top of your page in a few words.
  • Write down as many ways to solve this problem as you can think of. Write without judging the quality of your solutions.
  • When you feel complete, review your list. Are there any surprises? Like panning for gold, sift out the ideas that don’t resonate strongly and hold on to the gems — the solutions that excite you.
  • Sifting further, choose one that sparkles the most. If there are any action steps involved with your solution, write down the specifics — clarify the “when, where, and how.”

Daily practice is the key to shifting away from old patterns of thinking so you fire up new connections and creatively overcome challenges. To see bigger and faster results, make a commitment to practice on a daily basis. You will be amazed at the results. From your love life, to career, to finances, to health, and beyond, you will be generating new neural networks that will enrich and widen your world.

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Barnet Bain is an award-winning filmmaker, radio broadcaster, educator and creativity expert, and author of “The Book of Doing and Being” (Atria, 2015). His film credits include Oscar-winner “What Dreams May Come” (producer), Emmy-Award nominee, Outstanding TV Movie, “Homeless to Harvard” (executive producer) and “The Celestine Prophecy” (writer, producer). Barnet teaches workshops in creativity and is teaching a master’s level program at Columbia University’s Department of Clinical Psychology. Learn more at www.BarnetBain.com.

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